When the third-ranked Princeton women's lightweights return to Lake Mercer on June 1, they will bring a confidence that developed through a 2000-meter battle Sunday morning in the Knecht Cup final. A tight battle with numerous lead changes ended with Princeton pushing past both Boston University and Wisconsin.
The win gave Princeton its first Knecht Cup title since 2005, and it is the ideal start to an all-New Jersey finish to the lightweight season. Princeton will compete at either Lake Carnegie, Cooper River or Lake Mercer for the rest of the season.
"It was a very exciting race," said head coach Paul Rassam, whose last Knecht Cup win came during his first season. "We talked prior about needing to stay poised and execute a complete race, and I think we did exactly that. It was a very mature piece from our athletes."
Led by co-captains Maggie Stroebel and Rebecca Kreutter, Princeton now has a win at the Knecht Cup and a second-place finish to reigning national champion Stanford at the San Diego Crew Classic to start its 2014 season.
"The racing was as tight as it could be, and that's what we wanted," Stroebel said. "Championship racing will undoubtedly be even tighter, so going out there and executing a win under those circumstances really gives us the momentum and experience we want moving forward. I'm so proud to bring home the Knecht Cup, and hopefully it's just the first Cup we'll take home to Princeton this season."
Princeton will continue Cup hunting over the next two weekends when it hosts two of its most historic rivals at Lake Carnegie. The Tigers will welcome Georgetown next weekend for the Class of 2006 Cup, and then will welcome No. 2 Harvard for the Class of 1999 Cup the following weekend.
It was also the first weekend of racing for the varsity four, which took sixth in a very competitive grand final. Its finishing time of 8:01.71 was less than half a second out of fourth, and it was within nine seconds of the full field.
"Our four also did a really nice job," Rassam said. "As a fan of the sport it's really encouraging to see the depth in lightweight women's rowing. Its most certainly as deep as men's rowing at this point. That's something for all women's programs to be really proud of."
Knecht Cup Grand Final
1 Princeton 6:53.21
2 Boston University 6:54.88
3 Wisconsin 6:56.62
4 Bucknell 6:56.63
5 MIT 7:04.40
6 Tulsa 7:07.28
Varsity Four Grand Final
1 Tulsa 7:53.45
2 Lafayette 7:55.64
3 Bucknell 7:58.66
4 MIT A 8:01.30
5 MIT B 8:01.31
6 Princeton 8:01.71